Understanding - and Preventing - Playground Injuries
Playgrounds allow children to socialize, challenge themselves physically, and grow. While children have fun on the playground, they can also get hurt. Playground injuries are often severe, which is why prevention is so important.
Keep reading to learn more about playground injuries – and how to prevent them.
How Many Kids Get Hurt on Playgrounds Each Year?
Each year, more than 200,000 children under the age of 14 seek emergency treatment for playground-related injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the majority of these injuries occur on public playgrounds, especially at schools and daycare centers, and about 45% of these injuries are severe.
Children often sustain broken bones, sprains and strains, dislocations, internal injuries, and concussions. Playground-related deaths are rare, but typically involve falls or strangulation, usually on home playgrounds.
What Accidents May Occur in the Playground?
Many children hurt themselves while climbing, swinging, or sliding. Accidental falls are a common cause of playground injuries, as are design and maintenance errors in the playground itself. Children can also get caught in playground equipment, and loose clothing like scarves, drawstrings, and other cords can lead to strangulation.
Many injuries are also the result of children going down slides, particularly in their parents’ laps. Often, a child’s leg becomes stuck and gets twisted on the way down. Children may also make contact with the sharp edges of equipment, trip over a piece of equipment, or get hit by a piece of equipment they are not using (ex: getting hit by a moving swing).
What Piece of Playground Equipment Causes the Most Injuries?
Falling from equipment is responsible for more than 2/3 of playground injuries, and more injuries occur on climbers than on any other equipment. Swings are also responsible for plenty of injuries, along with slides, monkey bars, merry-go-rounds, teeter-totters, and seesaws.
Additionally, as the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons emphasizes:
“Playgrounds with poor maintenance present extra opportunities for injuries from trash, rusty play equipment or damaged fall surfaces.”
What Do You Do to Help Prevent Playground Injuries?
Because falls are the leading cause of playground accidents, the best way to prevent playground injuries is to reduce the risk of falls and their impact. Parents should take children to age-appropriate playgrounds and supervise their children throughout. When children are at school or daycare, a responsible adult should always be watching.
Parents and other caretakers can also periodically inspect playgrounds for hazards (perhaps using the Public Playground Safety Checklist from the Consumer Product Safety Commission) and report any safety concerns to the party that operates the playground.
Equipment should have protective barriers and guardrails with curved or peaked surfaces and vertical rather than horizontal bars to discourage climbing. The surface below playground equipment is also important and should be 6 to 12 inches of loose fill (sand or pea gravel), wood chips, or a protective synthetic surface (like rubber or thick artificial turf).
If a child gets hurt, the party that owns and operates the playground may be liable for any injuries. Town, city, county, or federal governments typically operate public parks and playgrounds, and public and private school districts usually operate school playgrounds. In some cases, the company that designed or built the playground may also face liability.
People and companies that design, build, own, and operate playgrounds must adhere to federal guidelines from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, along with local rules and regulations.
If you have reason to believe that your child’s injury is a result of someone else’s negligence, please discuss your case with Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC during a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.
To speak to one of our lawyers, please call us at (918) 347-6456 or contact us online today. We don’t get paid unless you do.